Home News Council Laois County Councillors call for ‘Strategic Housing Developments’ to be abolished

Laois County Councillors call for ‘Strategic Housing Developments’ to be abolished

An aerial view of the proposed development at Rathevan in Portlaoise

Laois County Councillors have called on the Minister for Housing, Darragh O’Brien, to abolish Strategic Housing Developments (SHD) immediately.

Normally applications for planning permission first go to Laois County Council before being granted or refused.

But developments of more than 100 no longer go to the council and instead directly to An Bord Pleanala, who then seek submissions from the Local Authority.

The change was made during the course of the last Government in a bid to fast-track the building of homes to address the housing crisis.

The policy is set to expire at the end of 2021 but Laois Councillors are looking for it to be ended immediately and branded it ‘an attack on democracy’.

They made specific reference to a 155 house development in the existing Foxburrow estate in Portlaoise which is located on the Block Road.

Councillors and many residents were opposed to the move but were left powerless to prevent it as An Bord Pleanala gave it the green light.

The only other avenue for people to appeal such a decision now is to seek a judicial review – but Cllr Willie Aird, who put down the motion, said this is not a financially realistic option.

He said: “This policy is wrong. It was brought in to deal with the housing crisis in cities and I don’t believe it was meant for rural areas like Laois.

“It undermines the very good planners that we have working in Laois County Council.

“We have excellent professionals here and I want all housing applications to be dealt with here.”

Cllr Aird received support from fellow Cllrs John Joe Fennelly, Seamus McDonald and Cathaoirleach Catherine Fitzgerald who called it an attack on democracy.

She said: “It undermines the right of appeal and attacks democracy.

“The policy is supposed to be gone in 2021 and I sincerely hope that it is.”

It was agreed to contact Minister O’Brien on this.

SEE ALSO – Laois soccer club and special school to benefit from lease of County Council land

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Stradbally native Alan Hartnett is a graduate of Knockbeg College who has worked in the local and national media since 2008. Alan has a BA in Economics, Politics and Law and an MA in Journalism from DCU. His happiest moment was when Jody Dillon scored THAT goal in the Laois senior football final in 2016.